It’s the last day of 2022, and what a long, strange trip this year has been. From the meteoric rise in the popularity of actors like Yash and Kartik Aaryan; to overreactions around songs like “Kesariya” (for its lyrics) and “Besharam Rang” (for what, we’re not sure. Maybe an existential angst rooted in the self-knowledge that none of us will ever be able to pull off any of the outfits that Deepika Padukone does in that video?); and the regrettable trend of online campaigns to ‘boycott’ Bollywood films, this past year has kept us on our toes. As we get ready to embrace all that 2023 has in store for us, here’s a look back at some of 2022’s more memorable newsmakers.
The King of Bollywood completed 30 years in the industry on June 25, 2022. From starring in one of the longest-running Indian films of all time (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, 1995) to establishing his own production house, Red Chillies Entertainment, Khan has a long list of achievements to his name. The actor who got noticed by audiences for his portrayal of a crazed stalker in Baazigar (1993) would go on to redefine the romantic hero in the 2000s, adding some much needed sensitivity and softness to the Bollywood alpha male. Although Khan didn’t have a release in 2022 — he’s got three in 2023, so brace yourself — his cameos in Brahmastra Part One: Shiva and Laal Singh Chaddha (2022) were among the best parts in both films. The year ended with photos and music videos from his upcoming Pathaan being released and the sight of Khan, ripped and rippling, pretty much broke the internet. Thirty years in the industry, and he’s still a thirst trap. Praise be.
One thing that was well established by the end of 2022 is that the world is S.S. Rajamouli’s oyster. The director’s epic fantasy drama RRR (2022) was not only one of the biggest blockbusters in India, it left international audiences, from Los Angeles to Tokyo, in a tizzy. Rajamouli was a keynote speaker at the Toronto International Film Festival and RRR has already scored an Oscar nomination (there may be more. We’ll know when the full list of nominations are released in end-January). On December 3, 2022, Rajamouli won the Best Director award at the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC), which raised expectations of him scoring not just an Oscar nomination for directing RRR, but also a win. NYFCC Best Director award winners – including Jane Campion (Power of the Dog, 2021) and Chloe Zhao (Nomadland, 2020) – have historically proceeded to win the Oscar for direction.
Kantara proved to be the surprise package of 2022 when the mid-budget film went on to become a massive blockbuster, but success and nationwide fame can have its drawbacks. The climax of Kantara features the song “Varaha Roopam”, which is used to mesmerising effect. However, the same song left the film tied up in a legal knot when Thaikkudam Bridge, a Kerala-based music band, claimed that “Varaha Roopam” had copied their 2015 song “Navarasam”. The Kozhikode sessions court passed an the makers of Kantara from streaming the song on any OTT or music platforms without Thaikkudam Bridge’s permission. While the Palakkad court passed an order against the streaming, the Kozhikode court soon , citing “lack of jurisdiction” and restoring the original song to Kantara. Since the alternative version that the producers had inserted into Kantara had not been well-received, the return of the original “Varaha Roopam” left everyone associated with the film heaving a sigh of relief.
Telugu cinema has been growing in prominence in recent years and it delivered some of 2022’s biggest hits, including RRR, Sita Ramam and Major. If you thought that means the industry is rolling in dough, think again. In August 2022, the Telugu Producers’ Guild called for a , withholding shooting movies. Producers said that the commercial success of the films were offset by increased ticket prices, changing tastes of audiences, as well as other factors like differences in film budgeting and the rates charged for streaming projects. With many films being diverted straight to over-the-top (OTT) platforms, many actors reportedly pushed for higher fees, which further exacerbated the situation. Ultimately, the producers described the halt, which persisted for 30 days, as a “healthy pause”. Shooting of Telugu films in September.
Alphonse Puthren rose to fame with Premam (2015), a definitive ‘entry-point film’ to enjoy Malayalam cinema after Anjali Menon’s Bangalore Days (2014). The strong non-Malayali following for Premam created a huge expectation across states for Puthren’s Gold, his comeback film after seven years. With an ensemble cast including Prithviraj Sukumaran and Nayanthara, Gold was scheduled to be an Onam special release. To whet interest, the makers released almost nothing other than an introductory teaser and it worked. Expectations and interest spiked sharply, only for the plans to fall flat. Suddenly, the film was yanked out of the release schedule without explanation. Rumours started floating that the entire film had got lost, that the footage had been deleted by mistake (bizarre, right?). Finally, in an effort to clear the confusion, one of Gold’s producers, Listin Stephen revealed that no footage had been deleted. Instead, the problem was in the computer in which the footage was stored was bad. Apparently, the computer kept hanging, which led to the film being left hanging. Here’s how bad that computer was — Gold was released months after Onam, in the first week of December.
Director Ashwin Saravanan is known for horror films like Maya (2015) and his latest, Connect starring Nayanthara, had a twist. In Connect, a woman and her daughter, who test positive for Covid-19, are quarantined at home. With a ghost. Aside from being topical, timely and starring Nayanthara, the film was promoted as Kollywood’s first no-interval film. In an with Film Companion, the film’s producer Vignesh Shivan said that an interval might break the film’s momentum, which is designed to keep the sense of horror intact. Sounds like an interesting creative call, but for one tiny detail: Theatre owners were having none of this no-interval concept. As a result, in many theatres, the 99-minute, no-intermission horror film broke for an interval at 59 minutes. This was bad news for Saravanan, who doesn’t get the tag of making the first Tamil film with no interval (despite having made a film without an interval); but it was good news for anyone who wanted bathroom breaks.
James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water was one of the most anticipated films this year and it made news down south before its theatrical opening, but for the wrong reasons. There was a lot of interest in the film, particularly because of Cameron’s technological wizardry and the visual effects used to bring the planet Pandora to life, but here’s where began: Who gets the biggest share of the pricing cake? The profit-sharing ratio is usually 50-50 between theatre owners and producers/distributors for English films. However, for Avatar: The Way of Water, the distributors demanded a 60-40 ratio. Multiplexes agreed to these terms, but single-screen owners refused. After some eyeballing, a was agreed upon and considering the film’s box office success, we expect all parties are feeling validated.
No one did as much as Ranveer Singh for the cause of nainsukh in 2022. For Paper magazine, the actor dressed himself in nothing but bronzer and sprawled out on a carpet, striking poses that would make Cleopatra proud. His nudity was a performance for both his pleasure and that of those viewing the photographs. A performance that was as much about being a vision of masculine beauty as it was about articulating desire in a way that didn't feel reductive to either the subject or the audience. Needless to say, the fact that Singh wasn't wearing chaddis (or any other article of clothing) left many others' chaddis in a twist. Outraged individuals informed us that if one zoomed in on one particular photo, you could spot Singh's delicates (if this is troubling, then the simple solution would be to not zoom in on said photo). A first information report (FIR) was filed following a complaint that accused Singh of obscenity. Nekkid Ranveer Singh was even the topic of prime time news debates. As appalling as it was to see the overreaction, Singh's photoshoot provided more (and better) entertainment than most Hindi films released this year (including his own Cirkus).